The next day, officers found her body in her SUV parked outside a mall.
According to police, officers were then able to locate 41-year-old Christopher Cater at a store not far from where Ortega’s SUV was located. He allegedly confessed to killing Ortega a month earlier and then using her information to obtain fraudulent loans, KFDM reported.
According to KPLC, Ortega's family members first requested a welfare check on Aug. 15 after they didn’t hear from the victim for about a month.
Sheriff Tony Mancuso told KPLC, “We went to the house. No car in the driveway, no signs of foul play.”
Mancuso said family told police it wasn’t rare to not hear from Ortega for extended periods and they declined to file a missing person report at that time.
Calcasieu police spokesperson Kayla Vincent told KPLC that Ortega was finally reported missing on Aug. 20.
The same day, Cater and Ortega’s vehicle were found during a traffic stop. However, police let Cater go after he allegedly told the deputy he dropped Ortega off in Arkansas and he was going back to pick her up in a few days, authorities said.
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On Aug. 21, another officer saw Ortega’s vehicle in the mall parking lot and discovered her body inside, according to KPLC.
Cater allegedly said he killed Ortega after she took him into her home and confessed to driving around with her body because he wasn’t sure what to do with it, police said, KPLC reported.
Mancuso said the cause of Ortega’s death is under investigation and they are looking into why her body was not found during the initial traffic stop.
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